Fri, Jul 03, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Stranded whale swallowed bags

By Tsai Wen-chu  /  Staff Reporter

Marine biologists on Wednesday performed an autopsy on a short-finned pilot whale that had died on Tuesday and found the cetacean’s stomach filled with plastic bags.

The whale was found stranded in Taichung’s Wuci District (梧棲) on Friday last week and was sheltered by National Cheng Kung University’s Marine Biology and Cetacean Research Center.

The creature died even though marine biologists transferred it to a pool and tried to save its life for five days.

Scientists at the institute said that they were shocked when they found large quantities of plastic bags and cellophane snack-wrappers in the whale’s stomach, adding that some of the bags were even neatly folded when retrieved.

“It was as if it had swallowed a bagful of household waste. It is really saddening,” one scientist said.

Hopefully, this incident raises people’s awareness of oceanic pollution and inspires them to cultivate a sustainable environment and show more respect to life, the institute said.

Research center director Wang Chien-ping (王建平) said the whale was a calf — weighing just over 100kg — and had only just stopped feeding on its mother’s milk.

Perhaps due to an inability to differentiate between food and trash, it ate whatever it found floating in the ocean, which left its stomach bulging with garbage, he said.

“It shows that the marine environment in the nation’s neighboring waters is appalling, and cetaceans are short of food,” Wang said.

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